Sydney is covered in a blanket of dust as high winds a drought conditions out west pick up top soil and send it east towards the coast. Picture: Toby Zerna
Sydney is covered in a blanket of dust as high winds a drought conditions out west pick up top soil and send it east towards the coast. Picture: Toby Zerna

Dust storm wreaks havoc on flights

UPDATE: The dust storm blowing over much of the eastern coast of Australia is causing chaos with flights to Sydney from Queensland.

While the storm is delivering a faint haze to southeast Queensland, Sydney is copping the brunt of the blowing in from the interior, resulting in multiple delays and cancellations of flights heading to the NSW capital from Queensland.

Sydney Airport has been reduced to just one runway with strong wind gusts of up to 70km/h hammering the city.

Of 22 flights from Brisbane to Sydney departing between 2pm and 8pm, no fewer than seven were marked as delayed - many up to an hour - while 10 services have been cancelled altogether.

A Sydney Airport spokeswoman said it's likely flights will face delays all day as they work to clear the backlog.

Multiple services to and from the Gold Coast have been also affected, with many facing delays of more than two hours and others cancelled.

Some inbound flights have also been cancelled.

 

EARLIER: Air quality is expected to remain poor in Sydney for another day after thick lines of dust smothered much of NSW.

Strong winds from a low-pressure system yesterday whipped up masses of dirt across the drought-stricken state and from South Australian lake beds before it moved towards the coast.

A second band was expected late yesterday or this morning, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Extra paramedics and call takers were on duty yesterday to keep up with a rise in calls from people suffering asthma and other breathing difficulties.

The gusty winds also affected flights at Sydney Airport and firefighting efforts in the Hunter, where two blazes had residents seeking shelter.

"It's a huge system," Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Anita Pyne told AAP yesterday.

"We're expecting the dust to gradually increase over the next few hours, with the main band of dust to hit Sydney through the middle of the day or early afternoon. So the worst visibility is yet to occur."

Ms Pyne said it was not uncommon for inland parts of NSW to experience small-scale dust storms, but one this size was "unusual".



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